Now I’m no game maker, and I firmly believe in letting game developers handle their own business, but I do have a good idea about what makes a game good or not. Dead Space 3 looks to shake up the formula a bit, but hopefully the team at Visceral Games can bring in some new ideas while retaining what made the first two games special. That said, here is a short list of concepts we want top make sure Visceral understands we want.
Co-Op Done Right: There is a right way and a wrong way to handle cooperative play, and that goes double for a survival horror game. Resident Evil 5 showed us that having a partner doesn’t necessarily remove the tension from a game, and in some ways can enhance it. That’s what we want to see in Dead Space 3. Yes, a charging necromorph is terrifying, but what about when one has your buddy by the throat, and is about to turn him into an enemy? What does this do to Dead Space’s traditionally violent (and awesome) death scenes? I don’t exactly think respawning fits into the Dead Space fiction. Both previous games in the series did a great job of injecting incredible set pieces into the moment-to-moment gameplay, and I hope DS3 can continue that tradition. Of course, the danger of this is when people decide to play by themselves. Can the AI hold up? Visceral Games has promised seamless drop-in/drop-out gameplay, and an experience that will change depending on whether you are playing co-op or going it solo. Hopefully, they will both be excellent.
Keep the Fear: Dead Space was scary. The idea of necromorphs is bad enough, but the fantastic sound design and gory graphics really sold the idea of living a nightmare. Dead Space 2 upped the ante with enhanced everything, intense set-pieces and a more solid focus on protagonist Isaac, and his slow spiral into insanity. What will Dead Space 3 do? I would love to see the focus continue to stay on Isaac’s fragile state of mind, and not get over-burdened with making Isaac look cool, or trying to make us care about the other characters. Hearing a monster slithering through the vents, or having to insert a needle into your eye; these are the moments that made the franchise great. Let’s continue doing that, huh?
A Good Setting: One of the best facets of the Dead Space series is the way they utilize environmental story-telling, and the extent to which your location plays into the terror. Exploring the Ishimura was a bone-chilling journey, and you got the feeling that just some really terrible things happened there. Exploring The Sprawl in the sequel was equally captivating. Both places hung their hats on tightly focused settings, that, although linear, was able to perfectly set the pace for the game. With Dead Space 3’s move to the icy planet Tau Volantis, it’s possible that Visceral is setting us up for a much more open adventure. That’s fine, we don’t need tight corridors to be scared, but I don’t want to see them open things up too much. There is always a trade-in, and in this case, I’m not sure that more freedom is worth losing some of the spectacle of the over-the-top set-pieces.
Answers: I had a great time playing the first two entries in the series, but I’ll be honest about something: I have little to no idea what happened. Um, there’s this thing called the Marker, and I’m pretty sure it’s important. It somehow ties into the Necromorphs. Somehow. There’s that whole space between “We’re bringing this alien artifact onto our ship”, and “Holy crap, what the f**k did that thing just do to Johnson?”, that I just don’t get. I know the Marker warps your mind, but at what point does it start warping your body? Where do the necros come from? Maybe I somehow missed these answers, but I think it’s time they made that particular piece of the fiction clearer. Also, what the hell does the Church of Unitology have to do with anything?
A Reason To Not Use The Plasma Cutter: I’m actually just kidding, because the plasma cutter rocks. But it would be nice to have a reason to actually check out the other weapons the series has to offer. Sure, the Ripper and the Line Gun are cool and effective, but do they really have a different functionality? When it comes down to it, all the weapons are basically the same. Change that. I think the news that ammo will now be universal is actually good thing. Our inventory won’t be clogged with a pile of useless ammunition, so we can focus on finding the best weapon for our situation, and not the gun we have the biggest supply of ammo for.